A CASE STUDY OF COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN PRESCHOOL EDUCATION: CULTURAL IDENTITY, MIGRATION AND AGENCY

M.A. Delgado Fuentes

Universidad Iberoamericana (MEXICO)
The present case study was conducted within a Nahuatl community in the state of Puebla, Mexico, via both observations in the school and classroom and in-depth interviews with the teacher, members of the school support committee, members of the community and children. The aim was to examine forms of community involvement within the local preschool and the corresponding impact on the school. The way in which the community becomes involved was found to be closely related to the cultural norms of community collaboration and organisation that govern relationships and activities locally. This is so not only for preschool but also for primary school and distance learning and other traditional organisations appointed by the community each year, and for communal activities aiming to improve quality of life across the community. These traditional frameworks exist nonetheless alongside recent developments such as the considerable increase in the number of people emigrating to the US. Community involvement is not limited solely to parents, with adults who are either not parents or have children in higher levels of education also becoming involved at preschool level. Involvement in the school has succeeded in reducing the level of malnutrition in children and ensuring provision of educational materials to all children. Without being an overt aim of such involvement, it has also enabled children to learn to solve problems in an adult-like way by taking the advice of their elders and by engaging in classroom activities as a group. Given this continual exposure to cultural norms at preschool level, certain children with family issues were able to overcome some of those issues. By extension, the study highlights the community's view that children are the collective responsibility of all adults and that schools are a part of their community.